A former Securities and Exchange Commission official said greater disclosure of investment banks' highest-paid employees — aside from corporate officers — would not necessarily aid shareholders.
Lynn Turner, who was the SEC's chief accountant from 1998 to 2001, said knowing top employees' compensation packages is not as important as knowing how much risk they are taking on and what companies are doing to mitigate those risks.
"People in America get way too carried away with wanting to know what everyone else's salaries are," Turner said.
Disclosure that Richard Fuld, who was chief executive of Lehman, earned $40 million in compensation in 2007 didn't "give you what was most important with respect to what was going on with that company," Turner said.
The documents offered a rare peek into the enormous pay that was routinely ladled out to traders, investment bankers and others in the boom that proceeded the financial crisis.
Though the payouts pale in comparison to those for the company's most highly paid people, the documents show the still-lucrative paydays enjoyed by rank-and-file workers on Wall Street.
The documents, for example, show how that 125 Lehman securities analysts were awarded $78.9 million in bonuses in 2007.
The largest went to Timothy F. Luke, who was awarded $4 million, which included a $3.8-million bonus. The next highest amount, $3.6 million, went to Daniel F. Ford, who is now an energy analyst at Barclays, which acquired most of Lehman's business after the bankruptcy. The smallest allotment to an analyst was $121,723, which includes a $66,000 base salary.
The documents also show the lavish generosity that Lehman extended to newcomers, allotting $25.4 million to bonuses for new hires in 2007.
The most money went to Stanley Rowe, who had joined Lehman as head of Latin American equities. He received $3.53 million worth of shares that were to vest over four years. Paul S. Schechner, hired as a managing director in the real estate investment banking group in 2007, was awarded the second-highest bonus: $2.7 million worth of stock vesting over three years.
Puzzanghera reported from Washington. Marc Lifsher contributed to this report.